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The meninges are a protective lining around the brain and spinal cord. A meningioma is a tumor of these linings. Most meningiomas do not cause symptoms. But, if the meningioma grows, it can push on important parts of the brain. These tumors may be grade I, II or III.

Grade III is the most aggressive type. Malignant meningiomas, also called anaplastic, are less common. These tumors are faster growing. They often cause problems and some can cause some swelling in the brain.

Factors that may increase the risk of meningioma include:

  • Sex: twice as common in women than men
  • Age: 40-70
  • History of breast cancer or sarcoma, as part of the Li-Fraumeni syndrome
  • A diagnosis of neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2)
  • Radiation exposure, especially to the head

Meningioma Symptoms

Symptoms are usually related to the area of the brain that is affected or caused by skull pressure, and include:

  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Visual problems
  • Changes in behavior
  • Seizures
  • Pain
  • Loss of sensation or weakness in the arms and legs
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Slurred speech
  • Language deficits
  • Difficulty with learned movements
  • Loss of coordination
  • Difficulty writing
  • Intellectual difficulty

Diagnosis & Treatment

Images of your head and brain activity may be taken with these scans:

  • MRI scan
  • Angiogram
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)

Treatment depends on whether the tumor is malignant or benign, the size and position of the tumor, as well as your general health.


Your doctor may recommend surgery if the tumor’s location in the brain is accessible to surgery. Most surgeries can be performed without causing neurologic damage.


In some instances, prior to surgery, a catheter may be inserted into blood vessels supplying the meningioma in order to disrupt the flow of blood to the tumor, causing it to shrink and making it easier to remove surgically.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is used either on its own or after surgery has been performed. If the tumor is not located in an area of the brain where surgery can be safely done, and the tumor is causing problems, radiation therapy is an effective way of treating the tumor and stopping its growth.


Chemotherapy is used only in the treatment of malignant meningiomas. Different medications are available and are generally used in conjunction with surgery and radiation therapy.

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery

Gamma Knife delivers radiation more accurately and precisely than conventional radiation therapy. It's often recommended for tumors that are in difficult-to-reach places in the brain.


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.